Johannesburg - Working in or just visiting the Johannesburg CBD can be stressful.
The inner city is notorious for crime, filled with unruly drivers and often congested with traffic.
Due to the proximity to the ANC headquarters in Pixley ka Isaka Seme Street, the CBD is also often a site for violent strikes, protests and marches, as enraged residents, employees and organisations gather in their numbers there to hurl their grievances at the governing party officials.
This week, several parts of the CBD with an abundance of foreign nationals were sites of xenophobic violence and shop looting.
The leaders at FNB, one of South Africa’s biggest banks, are cognisant of Joburg’s CBD bad reputation. In a bid to encourage their workers to be productive and enjoy their work life in the inner city, the financial institution has renovated the Bank City precinct where one of their branches is located.
Their new and improved campus features a fresh, colourful and vibrant structure.
The site was officially unveiled to Bank City employees this week.
It includes an array of meal options, including formal dining, takeaways and coffee shops, as well as dessert and gift stores.
Although the new food court and surrounding area was the brainchild of FNB, it’s open to all members of the public to enjoy.
During the launch, FNB chief executive Jacques Celliers told the media that the inspiration behind the new food court was for their employees to be comfortable and enjoy their work life.
“We want our employees to want to come to work and be inspired.”
Celliers’ sentiments were echoed by FNB chief executive Lee-Anne van Zyl, who told the gathering that their new multi-coloured campus was in line with their vision of “work, eat, and play”.
“We want to attract the best talent, and we want our employees to enjoy working in the inner city and not just opt for their other locations,” said Van Zyl.
She added the site would be part of tourism in Johannesburg as it would be one of the locations that sightseeing buses visit when they drive through the CBD.
There are also plans for the structure to host music festivals, fashion shows and sport viewings.
While there are several security concerns in Johannesburg’s CBD, Van Zyl said they had adequate security on hand and had installed CCTV cameras.
As FNB encourages its employees and members of the public to enjoy its new campus, they are also proud of the iMadiba installation at the new food court.
This project, which was designed by artist Erhardt Thiel, is a micro museum built to the exact dimensions of Madiba’s Robben Island prison cell.
Those who visit the structure are encouraged to take a break from the stress of everyday life and use the site for dialogue, memory and reflection.
During the launch of the new Bank City Campus, Thiel said that there were already 23 iMadiba installations around the country, including in schools such as St Stithians in Johannesburg and universities such as Stellenbosch.
He added that there were plans for the installation to be built in corporate venues, and that he hoped for more to be built around the world.
“I can’t build them all myself, but we will give the plans to others to replicate around the world,” said Thiel.